Last night, for the first night in a while, I had trouble falling asleep. I do have insomnia, but usually, I can get to sleep and end up waking around 2 am for an hour or two if I am having an episode of the infliction I sarcastically call an unwanted visitor.
Last night was different. I had finished reading a novel earlier in the day on the drive home from our cabin. Instead, I read a chapbook of poetry I had received in the mail. It was heavy – emotionally, that is. Most of the poems were about a dysfunctional family and the resultant angst it caused the author. But, I read it all.
Shortly after 11 pm, I turned off the light. I knew sleep was not going to come easily. And, it didn’t. Instead, my mind started swirling. Mostly, it swirled about things that I know little about or cannot control. A few wisps of thoughts that traveled through my head in the dark were about the war in Ukraine, the death of the actor Bob Saget, and some of the comments I received on my blog. Unconnected, for sure.
But, I think most of my sleepless thoughts stemmed from the transition from cabin to home. I am simply not good at transitions. And, as anyone knows, life is full of them. When I laid there and thought about it, I’ve never transitioned well, nor have I had the ability to control the transitions to any great extent.
I remember going to college (1981) and being extremely unhappy during my first semester. My boyfriend at the time was in the Air Force and stationed in Japan. Reality gave me a poke when he suggested I quit and go overseas to live with him (I was 18). No, I knew that wasn’t the answer and ultimately, that wasn’t the guy for me either. But, the transition was hard and I was only an hour and a half away from home.
The big transitions in life, such as marriage, having children, starting a new job never really caused a problem for me. Mostly, I have problems before the transitions occur. I overthink, over-wonder, and over-plan all in an effort, I think, to control my destiny. Sometimes, there has been a problem with the transition well after it occurs, as well. It’s hard to make the connection at that point, but looking back I think it’s true.
Throughout our married life transitions occurred with regularity. At the outset, both my husband and I were in health care and pursued graduate degrees providing patient care. When you work in hospitals, you work shifts. Shift work means regular transitioning of the time you are at work. I only worked nights for 5 years. But, my husband rotated onto a night shift with regularity for thirty years. The transition for me meant that I worked around his schedule. And, then I worked around the kids’ schedules when they arrived. I was a stay-at-home mom after we moved from New York to Wisconsin in 1999. Did you notice the transition there? A move from one state to another. Luckily, I did not have a problem with that transition either.
So, it seems the smaller transitions, but also the ones where I feel controlled by outside forces – substitute teaching, presenting to a group on a subject I know little about because the “job” required it (birding or foraging comes to mind), selling our house, moving to our cabin without knowing it is permanent or not, all seem to be the type of transitions that cause me trouble. And, the trouble is anxiety which leads to insomnia.
I have found that routines help with my transitional difficulty. I made an error when I finished my book yesterday afternoon. I should have left the end unread until bedtime. The routine of reading a few pages of a story I’m interested in seems to help the specter of insomnia stay away. Certainly, reading about a dysfunctional family was not a relaxing thing to do. When I substituted (it’s been years now), I did best when I could prep – or I knew the teacher extremely well and knew the content (third grade). But, who preps to sub? I did because it helped me!
As for other transitions, they’ve become fewer. Selling the house you’ve lived in for 15 years (the longest home at which we’ve ever resided) is stressful for anyone. I can expect, reasonably, to have some transitional difficulties with that. And, I know I’ll deal with the difficulties better if I can sleep at night.
Nope, I’m not good with transitions. At least I know it.
Today is Slice of Life. It is the beginning of the yearly March challenge which I have participated in for the last five years. This year, I’ll only be popping in on Tuesdays, but continue to write daily. Thanks to TwoWritingTeachers.org for forming and hosting this challenge.